Scala's post-Mediterranean palate welcomes Jerusalem lovers
While Jerusalem has yet to deliver something as molecularly spectacular as Chicago's iconic Alinea, foodies hungry for an innovative culinary experience that is pleasing to both the eye and palate can rejoice in Scala, the landmark David Citadel Hotel's antidote to humdrum dining.
"This is exciting cuisine," Scala's Chef Oren Yerushalmi explains to GoJerusalem.com. Yerushalmi, 30, created the Mediterranean fusion menu with his former mentor and boss Meir Adoni, chef of Tel Aviv's beloved Catit bistro.
After working at Catit as a sous-chef, Yerushalmi won a scholarship to study in Paris, which unlocked his appetite to see the world. Buying a one-way ticket to New York where he knew not a soul, he ended up staying two years and refining his chops at such legendary restaurants as Wd-50 and Bouley. "I worked seven days a week and lived and breathed food," he says. But when Adoni called to offer him what Yerushalmi now calls the "opportunity of a lifetime," to take the helm of the newly launched Scala in his native Israel, Yerushalmi couldn't refuse. Yerushalmi oversaw Scala's opening in October 2008.
Designed by leading Italian architect Piero Lissoni, Scala is a minimalist mix of wood and glass, all imported from Italy. The floor-to-ceiling glass cooler showcases the Israeli-only wines served with dinner, while a large arched window looks out upon downtown Jerusalem.
From ceviche and goose liver to short ribs and duck leg confit, Yerushalmi combines old and new favorites with flights of fancy. "I take simple things and make them as they should be," says the chef, who changes the menu according to both the season and his whim.
Using fresh and in-season produce when available, his plates offer a veritable feast for the taste buds as well as the eyes: The goose liver is peppered with cubes of green apple, the carpaccio is accented with mustard croutons and salsa-grilled tomatoes, and the cured red tuna is served with delicately poached quail egg. Since kosher cooking in a meat restaurant forbids every chef's best friend, cream and dairy, Yerushalmi has to be creative. "I rely on lots of emulsions," he explains. He even doubles as the pastry chef, whipping up decadent chocolate desserts presented like works of art. And diners can take heart: Yerushalmi doesn't believe in small portions.
"The most important thing is that the food is fresh and tasty," Yerushalmi opines. "Here we have a great combination: the food looks good and it tastes good. This will keep people coming back for more."
Main courses at Scala are priced at 98 NIS or more. A romantic-themed tasting menu, complete with wine, is scheduled in honor of Valentine's Day, on February 14 for 350 NIS per person. Details appear on the restaurant's official website.
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